LOS ANGELES – Columbus Crew SC today selected two players in the First Round of the 2017 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The Black & Gold selected University of Dayton defender Lalas Abubakar (pronounced: ah-BOO-bah-car) with the fifth overall pick, as well as University of New Mexico forward Niko Hansen (pronounced: KNEE-co) with the ninth overall pick.
“We have two players that we feel have bright futures,” said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “I think these are two guys that we can envision contributing this year. They’re going to compete for spots. With Lalas, he’s a very competitive guy, he’s got a lot of resiliency and is very physically strong. We expect him to help out in the backline. With Niko, he’s shown in this Combine and throughout his college career that he can make plays and be a very dangerous attacker.”
Abubakar, 22, was selected in the First Round (Fifth overall) and played three seasons at the University of Dayton, making 61 appearances (60 starts), scoring four goals and recording six assists during his time there. Born and raised in Kumasi, Ghana, he has international experience playing for the Ghana Under-20 National Team. In 2016, Abubakar was chosen as the Atlantic 10 Conference Defender of the Year and made the Second Team NSCAA All-Midwest Region. The two-time Dayton Defensive Player of the Year also earned First Team Atlantic 10 All-Conference honors in 2015 and 2016. In his first season with the Dayton Flyers in 2014, he made the Second Team All-Ohio and the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team. He followed that with First Team NSCAA All-Midwest Region honors in 2015.
Hansen was also selected in the First Round (Ninth overall). The 22-year-old forward, born in Randers, Denmark, holds dual citizenship in the United States and Denmark. During his time at the University of New Mexico, he made 79 appearances (65 starts), scoring 28 goals and providing 14 assists. Hansen earned NSCAA Third Team All-American, NSCAA First Team All-Southeast Region and First Team All-Conference USA honors in his senior season in 2016. As a junior, the forward made the Second Team All-Conference USA and was named the MVP of the TLC Plumbing & Utility Invitational tournament. During his first year at the University of New Mexico in 2013, Hansen was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team.
The 2017 MLS SuperDraft resumes with the Third and Fourth Rounds, conducted via League conference call on Tuesday, January 17. Under Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter, the 2017 MLS Preseason begins on Monday, January 23, 2017 after entrance physicals and testing. From there, the club departs to Sao Paulo, Brazil for its first preseason camp. Crew SC is slated to remain in Brazil through February 9 before returning to Columbus. The team will be in Central Ohio at SuperKick in Powell from February 8 – February 12 for the second camp of preseason. Following the time in Ohio, the club travels to Charleston, South Carolina to participate in the 2017 Carolina Challenge Cup. More information on Season Ticket Memberships for the 2017 season at MAPFRE Stadium is available at columbuscrewsc.com.
Crew SC selects University of Dayton defender Lalas Abubakar (Fifth overall) and University of Mexico forward Niko Hansen (Ninth overall) in the First Round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft on January 13, 2017.
Name: Lalas Abubakar (ah-BOO-bah-car)
Born: December 24, 1994 in Kumasi, Ghana
Hometown: Kumasi, Ghana
Drafted: Selected in the First Round (Fifth overall) in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft on January 13, 2017
Previous Experience: University of Dayton (2014-2016)
Name: Niko Hansen (KNEE-co)
Born: September 14, 1994 in Randers, Denmark
Hometown: Sacramento, California
Citizenship: United States/Denmark
Drafted: Selected in the First Round (Ninth overall) in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft on January 13, 2017
Previous Experience: University of New Mexico (2013-2016)